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All talk no track: Where is high-speed rail in the U.S.?

The Obama Administration placed an emphasis on building high-speed and intercity passenger rail to connect communities and economic centers across the country, but will the strategic plan work in the United States?

Energy Security, Sustainability, Green Jobs ; these are just a few of the benefits of an intercity highspeed rail according to The U.S. High Speed Rail Association.  But do we have all the facts?  In her article, “High-Speed Rail: Great for Europe, but Less So for the U.S.?”, Politics Daily Correspondent Delia Lloyd offers some sobering facts to the potential for high speed rail in the United States.

(1)  Even if we could double intercity passenger rail patronage within the first year, this would barely equal 2 percent of commercial air-traffic volume.

(2) What the administration has in mind would accommodate train speeds of 110 miles per hour, not the 150 mph or more commonly used in Europe and Asia.

(3) While the environmental and mortality benefits of rail are real, the magnitude of the social benefits is quite small relative to the cost.

But however difficult laying the track to high-speed rail in the U.S. might be, I have to agree with Chris Matthews‘ suggestion in his post “High Speed Rail in America: Hope We Can Believe in”.

“Stop listening to Europe, stop listening to the conservatives, do what has worked in the past… We need production for this country now. We need to build rapid rail to catch up to those allies from World War Two. France has the TGV. China is building its rapid rail system. It’s time we joined the movement. We need to go back to the future and become a country that builds things. It’ll create jobs. It’ll catch us up to the rest of the world. It’ll cut our reliance on oil. It’ll give us hope you can believe in.”

Image Credit:  Whitehouse.gov under Creative Commons license.

Written by Emily DeMasi

Emily McKinin DeMasi is a 2011 MBA/ MA Public Policy candidate and Peace Corps Fellow at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Her thesis work concerns Corporate Social Responsibility in the United States. She also works as a Research Fellow at Bridgeway Capital, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) in downtown Pittsburgh. Emily has worked as an Associate in a Private Equity Placement Firm in NY and as a Water and Sanitation Volunteer in Ivory Coast, West Africa. She hopes to combine her business background with her passion for development and inspire others in the fields of Sustainability and CSR.

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